Review – The Secrets of Hawthorne House by Donald Firesmith

I received a copy of this ebook from in exchanged for my honest review.

When Matt’s mother dies in a freak car accident, his grieving father moves the family from the ocean town they love to Hawthorne, Indiana. They movie into a house next to a mansion, Hawthorne House, rumored to be the home of a witch. In order to make some spending money, Matt approaches the owner of the mansion and asks to do her yard work. Mrs. Hawthorne agrees on a trial basis. She suspects that Matt is planning to prank her, like the all the other kids in the area. When he does a good job, she hires him.

Summer ends and school starts. Things get rough when the town bullies decide to make Matt their next target. When he tries to defend himself, he in fact, gets into trouble. Matt is miserable.

One day, Mrs. Hawthorne asks Matt to do some extra work because she has company coming. Her niece and her three children are coming to live with her after the death of her nephew-in-law. Matt and the eldest boy, Gerallt, become fast friends and, unfortunately, even more of a target for the bullies. While dealing with the bullies, Matt learns about Gerallts’ family secret and it is a doozy.

I really enjoyed this book and hope that there are more to come.

Get yourself a copy from Amazon.

Thanks for reading!

Review – Finding Beautiful: Discovering Authentic Beauty Around the World by Rebecca Friedlander

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Finding Beautiful: Discovering Authentic Beauty Around the World by Rebecca Friedlander from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I have been reviewing advanced reader copies through NetGalley since 2013.

I admit that I don’t normally read much non-fiction, Christian or otherwise. When I received the opportunity to review Rebecca’s book, I was emotionally and spiritually in a rough spot. This book came to me as a gift from God. In the book “The Greatest Mystery in the World”, Og Mandino described “hand of God” – books that God inspired people to write. I believe that “Finding Beautiful” is one of those books.

Finding Beautiful by Rebecca Friedlander

The author tells the stories of 12 women who, in one way or another, have been brought through a terrible time in their lives through God’s grace. Their stories range from rough childhoods to drug addiction to working as a stripper. In each story, she highlights their troubles, then tells how God reached out and helped them make the changes in their lives that saved them. Each chapter includes scripture that applies to the story within. The before and after photos are beautiful and each chapter ends with questions to help you contemplate the life lessons learned by the women. The author also tells her story about the experience she had while writing and photographing each of the women. I don’t want to go into too much detail because you need to experience each story for yourself.

I finished my first read-through of the book in 3 days and it moved me so much that I am currently doing a second read and working through the questions at the end of each chapter. A lot of times Christian, or any religious related writings, try too hard to either convert you or tell you what to do. I feel that Finding Beautiful, instead of shoving religion down your throat, it is gently fed to you by the author. A wonderful and uplifting book.

The book release date is April 30, 2019. Get your copy by pre-ordering today.


Barnes and Noble:

Christian Books:

Thank you for reading.

Review – Ravens in the Sky by Will Bly

In between reading book club books and advanced reader copies of upcoming books, I like to read something for pleasure. I usually choose a cozy mystery or a dystopian fiction about people trying to survive after the apocalypse. You know, something light and fluffy and easy to read.

This week I decided to try a new genre -Dark Fantasy. Not normally my jam, but I love to try new things.

Ire (short for Irulen) is a sorcerer for hire. He travels around with his raven, Max, looking for ways to use his magic to solve crimes and make some money. Max usually flies into a town or city to try to hunt up a client. He then flies to Ire with a note saying what the client wants.

When Ire goes to Frostbridge to try and solve the murder of the daughter of the leader of the town, he uses his skills to learn that an Imp is doing the killings. He kills the Imp and save Farrah, a serving girl from the town tavern. Thus starts a new adventure with Farrah in the city.

I don’t want to give too much away. I do want to say that I really enjoyed the book and will see if there are any other books by Will Bly available to read on my Kindle.

Check out the book on Amazon.

Thanks for reading.

Try to win a Kindle ebook of this novel by visiting

Keeping track of my 2019 reading challenge – updated 8/26/19

As I read the books for my reading challenge, I will update this list with the titles for each category.  If you are participating, please let me know what you are reading.

toddler reading book
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

  • A children’s book – I’m Just a Little Cow – adorable little board book about a cute little cow with googly eyes.  Highly recommended.
  • A book by a local author – Captiva by Randy Wayne White – I’ve been wanting to try one of his books for a while.  I couldn’t get my hands on the first through third books of the series easily, so I started with number four. Thoroughly enjoyed it and could imagine all of the places in the book.
  • One of my top three books I’ve ever read – Circe by Madeline Miller has become one of my top three books I’ve ever read.  I can’t wait to read more by this author.
  • A book based on it’s cover – The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson – Interesting historical fiction about the women who created Princess Elizabeth’s (now Queen) wedding dress.
  • A genre I don’t normally read – Romance novels…blech…sigh…I don’t wanna!!!  Merry Christmas Baby by Jill Shalvis.  I am starting it today (3/7/19) as an audio book.  Wish me luck. Update – 3/8/19 – I finished this short story.  Not my cup of tea but at least I tried.
  • A book with a one word title – Gumption – Nick Offerman – I loved his characters on Parks and Recreation.  His take on historical figures is both interesting and funny.
  • Reread a favorite book – One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni – I discovered Chitra Divakaruni when choosing her book Before We Visit the Goddess when was assigned to the book discussion at the library where I work. I reached out to the author and she was kind enough to agree to a Skype Q&A session with our group.  Unfortunately, our equipment did not work.  She did the Q&A with us via text.  Her books are beautiful and she was wonderful and kind.
  • A book recommended by someone with good taste – Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson – recommended by Anne Bogel on the podcast “What Should I Read Next”.  I can’t recommend this book enough. Read it!!!
  • A book set in my home state – Cape May by Chip Creek – I received this Advanced Reader Copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  When I saw this book, set in Cape May, NJ listed on NetGalley, I knew it would fit perfectly in this category.  The beauty of the cover belies the story within. img_2835                                                                                                         I can honestly say that I did not like this book. Five horrible human beings thrown together in a story that has no redeeming quality.  If you like a book with sex but no real substance that is even more boring than a Harlequin Romance, this book might be for you.  If you are looking for a real story, move on.
  • A debut novel – Where the Crawdad’s Sing – Delia Owens – I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Kya Clark, the marsh girl.  Part ode to nature, part coming of age story, part mystery, this book will be added to my top 100 books I’ve ever read.
  • A biography – Educated by Tara Westover.  This will probably be my favorite book that I read this year.  Ms. Westover tells the brutally honest story of her childhood and how she overcame her lack of education and receive her PhD.  Fascinating.
  • A book over 500 pages long – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – still trying to figure out who is human and who is martian. Confused.

Happy reading!

My 2019 reading challenge

Hey there! I got out of the funk I was in during my last post. Thanks for putting up with my pity party.

Now that we are in the new year, I have created a reading challenge for myself. During 2019, I challenge myself (and anyone who wants to join me) to read the following:

  • A children’s book
  • A book by a local author
  • One of my top three books I’ve ever read
  • A book based on it’s cover
  • A genre I don’t normally read
  • A book with a one word title
  • Reread a favorite book
  • A book recommended by someone with good taste
  • A book set in my home state
  • A debut novel
  • A biography
  • A book over 500 pages long

I have already made some progress.  The first book I read this year checks off the children’s book category. I read “I’m Just a Little Cow”. An adorable board book that I spotted while checking in returns at the library where I work.




This little cow is adorable.  I’ve recommended it and even put it out on our staff picks shelf.

I’ll be posting more as I work through the list.

Happy New Year!

How to get out of a reading rut.

I have been suffering through a reading rut.   I’m finding myself reading the same kinds of books over and over.  You know how it is…

I just CAN’T read another psychological mystery that has so many twists and turns that I don’t know my left from my right.  I call it the Gone Girl Phenomenon.  You know what I mean, a whiz bang of a book comes out.  Everyone reads it.  You either love it or hate it.  Then ever other author decides that they are going to write the same kind of book.  Next thing you know, you’re depressed as all get out because of the horrible things the fictional characters in these books go through. This is what happened to me.  I read every Liane Moriarty and Mary Kubica book.  I love them.  They are up in my top ten author list.  Now I’m tired of the peril and the twists, so I try something lighter.

Enter the cozy mysteries.  I love them.  I am currently working my way through Adele Abbott’s Witch P.I. Mysteries.   There are 27 books in this series and I love them.  I’m reading #9 Witch is When My Heart Broke.  They are light, funny and don’t keep me awake at night. (To win a digital copy of the first book in the series, click HERE.)

So to try to find new authors and books to read, I have turned to podcasts about books. Some are done by Librarians others are done by booksellers.  Either way, they are my new jam for driving too and from work.  Once I finish an episode, I go onto the show notes on the podcast webpage and write down the books I want to read that they discussed.  If you are stuck and don’t know what to read next, check out some of these podcasts.

I’m sure there are more podcasts that I have not discovered yet.  I’ll keep searching and sharing with you.

Share your book and podcast recommendations with me.

Thanks for reading!




Book lover Q & A

Book pet peeves

Bad editing. Bad fan fiction (Fifty Shades of Dreck anyone?). Books without a character to root for.

Perfect reading spot


3 bookish confessions

I don’t read from the New York Times bestsellers list unless I have to.

I can’t get to sleep without reading.

I usually have 4 or more books being read simultaneously.

Last time you cried while reading a book

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton. It is a must read.  I read it BEFORE it was on Oprah’s book list!

Number of books on your nightstand

None.  Just my Kindle.

Favorite reading snack

I don’t normally eat while I’m reading but I love a nice cup of coffee.

3 books you would recommend to anyone

Wonder by R. J. Palacio, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Andriana Trigiani, Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (make sure you listen to the audiobook)

Picture of your favorite bookshelf

Since I mostly read on my Kindle…


How much books mean to you in 3 words

Love my books!

Biggest reading secret

I love to read juvenile picture books out loud, with voices.

If you decide to participate, don’t forget to tag This {____}life so I can see your answers.

Review – Bring Me Back

Bring Me Back Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was given an advanced copy of Bring Me Back from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

WOW! A great psychological thriller/mystery. Where did Layla go? There has been no sign of her and no body has been found. Twelve years later, Finn is getting ready to marry Layla’s sister, Ellen. But wait, there are now signs that Layla may be alive. The book will keep you guessing right til the end.

Even though I had pretty much figured out what was happening, the twists and turns of the plot kept me on my toes. If you like a good psychological mystery without any gore, you should try Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris.

Thanks for reading.

View all my reviews


Review – The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

I received an advanced copy of The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This was such a gut-wrenching book. It’s hard to explain how a book about an innocent man’s time on death row was life affirming and hopeful, but Anthony Ray Hinton’s story is just that. I will be mentally and emotionally processing this book for the rest of my life. In a world where so many horrible things are happening, where there is so much hate, this book gave me hope and a lot to think about.

Review – When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

I was given an advanced copy of When Life Gives You Lululemons by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I read The Devil Wears Prada years ago when I was working in advertising. For someone who has worked in that kind of environment, the actions of Miranda Priestly were comical and way too close to home. Her 1st Assistant Emily was a character that I was very much familiar with. The take no prisoners, slightly sweet, mostly bitchy woman whom you never want to cross.

In When Life Gives You Lululemons, we find Emily relocated to LA and working as an image consultant to the rich and famous. You know, the ones who go around picking up after Britney Spears, Justin Beiber, Mel Gibson and try to fix whatever malarkey they have gotten into. When a younger, hipper image consultant starts stealing her best (aka worst offenders) clients, Emily doesn’t know what to do.

Enter Karolina Hartwell, the mega-supermodel wife of a Senator with presidential aspirations. When Karolina is falsely accused of drinking and driving with children in her car, the happy life she thought she had begins to unravel. While visiting her friend Miriam, Emily meets Karolina and decides to help her. While trying to get to the bottom of things, they find that the Senator is the one to set her up so that he can divorce her to advance his career.

Between unraveling the clues and trying to figure out how to deal with suburban Connecticut residents and their weird ways, Emily gets her “image consultant” mojo back.

I enjoyed the book but I believe I will never move to suburban Connecticut. Those people are crazy!